2017 is Glory(us)

Finally… What many hoped would happen… happened on February 17, 2017.  The water crested the rim of the Glory Hole and began to spill a torrent of “clean” water past Monticello Dam and into lower Putah Creek.

I’ve already written about what I called the “Imperfect Storm” – a wet winter causing severe siltation with potential devastating consequences.  Fortunately, continued precipitation may have produced at least a partial solution.

On Friday February 17, 2017, Lake Berryessa crested it’s maximum surface elevation of 440 feet allowing water to drain into the “Glory Hole”.  The last time this occurred was 2006.

scwa-berryrssa-level-2-20-17
Lake Berryessa Surface Elevation (Source: Solano County Water Agency)

 

Water is now spilling like a giant bathtub after the plug has been pulled.  The spike of flows into the lower Putah Creek are significant:

usgs-pc-discharge-2-20-17
Putah Creek Flow Graph (Source USGS)

 

The Monticello Dam overlook was packed with cars and people who had travelled from all over to see the spectacle.

 

Further downstream, the creek was engorged from bank to bank.  I was pleased to see that the water appeared much cleaner than the relatively smaller contribution of Cold Creek (which can be seen entering from the left in the video):

 

Here are some photos of areas further downstream:

 

As can be seen in the above photos, the creek is now creating dramatically different channels.  In some areas, the creek appears braided with islands.  There is a brisk flow all the way to the Diversion Dam.  It will be very interesting to see how Putah Creek has changed after all of this scouring.  It will ALL be new!

As an aside, there are quite a few drone shots hosted on YouTube showing the Glory Hole.  Here is one of the best that I found… I really enjoyed how it starts off at Canyon Creek Resort and skims the creek and then finally reveals the Glory Hole.  I may have chosen different music but the visuals are fantastic!

 

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